Fleetwood Community Theatre took audiences on a rollicking tour of ’‘Greater Tuna” last weekend. The tiny Texas town is filled with hilarious, larger-than-life characters that may seem familiar. It was impossible not to laugh at the whiskey-drinking newscasters, Yippy the dog and the chicken-loving old lady, originally created by Joe Sears, Jaston Williams and Ed Howard as a party skit.
The original version had two actors playing all 21 roles. FCT cast eight great comedic actors to bring the citizens of Tuna to life.
The townsfolk were introduced via the local radio station OKKK, through its newscast and talk shows.
Brian Miller and Patrick Anderson O’Neil kicked off the hilarity as Arles Struvie and Thurston Wheelis, who keep Tuna’s residents informed throughout the day with the help of Old Man Whiskey. The “drunker” they got, the funnier the lines. Both also played other roles. My favorites were Miller as Phinas Blye, the perpetual political candidate who never won and O’Neil as Rev. Spikes, the local preacher. His pumped-up, cliché-ridden eulogy for the newly deceased Judge Bruckner was arguably one of the best routines in the show.
The best thing about “Tuna,” is that it gives everyone lots of chances to shine.
Melissa Kopicz turned in three great performances as Bertha Bumiller, a long-suffering housewife and mother, Leonard Childers, the radio station owner and talk show host, and my favorite, Pearl Burras, the funniest chicken-loving, dog-hating old woman I have ever seen.
Jeremy Herchelroth was also a triple threat – playing both Stanley and Charlene Bumiller, Bertha’s twins, and the hysterically funny Didi Snavely, the owner of Didi’s Used Weapons.
Taking on the pet-overpopulation in town was Bob Barskey as Petey Fisk, the local one-man humane society. Barskey was perfect as the mild-mannered Fisk who loves everything from ducks to an irrepressible, annoying rat terrier/chihuahua-cross puppy named Yippy.
Yippy is played by Zachary Goodrich, who was so good in this role – I think he must have been a dog in a former life. It was impossible not to laugh at his wiggly antics. Goodrich also played the local weatherman and Elmer Watkins who headed the local KKK chapter.
Steve Miller played Jody Bumiller, Bertha’s dog-obsessed youngest son and had the audience in stitches as Vera Carp, vice president of the local chapter of “S.M.U.T. Snatchers.”
Playing the local coach was Jeff Maynard, who gave a roundabout explanation of why his team lost 48-0. Maynard was also perfectly cast as Sheriff Givens, who seemed to think he knew what was going on in his town. His interaction with Herchelroth as Stanley, the reform school graduate, was another highpoint of the show.
Even though “Greater Tuna” is set in Texas, the characters are universal – if exaggerated.
The show was directed by Jeffery Jones, who just happens to be a native Texan who now lives in Kutztown.
FCT’s “Greater Tuna” is now a thing of the past, but there is much more planned for the coming months.
Coming up in June is FCT’s junior show, “The Big Bad Musical” and in July, the summer musical, “The Producers.”
To keep up with Fleetwood Community Theatre, visit <www.fleetwoodcommunitytheatre.com>.